Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Police have blocked Gulu city, Bardege-Layibi division authorities from allocating market space to vendors evicted from the streets. The division authorities led by the Mayor Patrick Oola Lumumba had asked the evicted vendors to converge at an open space along Walter Opwonya road on Tuesday to be allocated market space.
More than 600 vendors trading in different merchandise turned up expecting to acquire space but the exercise ended shortly after heavily armed police officers stormed the area in their patrol vehicles and asked all the people to leave. Earlier, the Bardege-Layibi Division Speaker Robert Komakech had said that the land adjacent to the Gulu ICT Hub would accommodate the evicted vendors so that they resume their businesses.
He said that the decision follows the failure of the authorities to accommodate the vendors in some of the markets within the division, which are filled to capacity. However, the police under the command of the Gulu West Division Police Commander Austin Ocen, say that the vendors and authorities of Bardege-Layibi division have no authority to occupy the area claiming that is a wetland and insecure to host the vendors.
They asked the authorities to seek permission from the mother council of Gulu city. Left with no option, Oola asked the vendors to vacate the area until they engage Gulu city to chat away forward. Oola claims that the area is in a buffer zone and not a wetland, adding that it would have accommodated those dealing in shoes and clothes among other items.
One of the vendors who spoke to URN disclosed that some people claiming authority over the area are also demanding fifty thousand shillings from each vendor in order to be allocated space. Hundreds of vendors were last month forcefully kicked off the major streets of Gulu City’s central business for operating illegally.